Person: Oenopides Of Chios
Oenopides was a Greek who made important contributions to astronomy and may have been the first to fix a value for the obliqity of the ecliptic.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- We believe that Oenopides was in Athens when a young man but there is only circumstantial evidence for this.
- The young men were discussing a question in mathematical astronomy which had been tackled by Oenopides and Anaxagoras.
- Indeed, if Oenopides did not fix on this or some other figure it is difficult to know in what his achievement consisted, for the Babylonians no less than the Pythagoreans and Egyptians must have realised from early days that the apparent path of the sun was inclined to the celestial equator.
- Another major contribution to mathematical astronomy made by Oenopides was his discovery of the period of the Great Year.
- Oenopides gave a value of the Great Year as 59 years.
- However many historians doubt whether Oenopides could have collected sufficient good quality data to enable him to obtain a value as accurate as this.
- Toomer believed that in fact despite Oenopides' Great Year of 59 years, he did not have this accurate value for the length of the month, and later calculations were made using better data than would have been available to Oenopides to give this very accurate value for the length of the month, more accurate than Oenopides could ever have known.
- Tannery is forced to conclude that not all the planets could have been taken into account by Oenopides, however, as some of the planets would be in the wrong sign of the Zodiac after the period ended.
- Proclus attributes two theorems which appear in Euclid's Elements to Oenopides.
- These are elementary results but Heath believes that their significance might be that Oenopides set out for the first time the explicit 'ruler and compass' type of allowable construction.
- Oenopides also developed a theory to account for the Nile floods.
- We have some other indications of the philosophy of Oenopides.
Born about 490 BC, Chios, Greece. Died about 420 BC.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Geometry, Origin Greece, Physics, Puzzles And Problems
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive